Professor’s art captures essence of exotic locale

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Katie Paysinger

Linfield Review staff

The powerful sound of the rainforest and traces of sand from a nearby beach invade the atmosphere. Rope vines hang from above and disregarded trinkets from those who have come before lie on the aged ground.

While it may seem like you have been transported to some faraway land, you are actually standing in the middle of the new exhibit, “Observations from the Nicoya Peninsula,” created by Liz Obert, associate professor of art and visual culture, in the Miller Fine Arts Gallery. The installation began Feb. 13 and will end March 8.

Last fall, Obert traveled to Costa Rica for a one month sabbatical. She said her intentions for traveling to South America were to gather materials to replicate the environment for people in Oregon. After considering other places, she decided Costa Rica was the best option.

“I wanted to travel to a foreign country,” she said. “I thought about Europe, but it is just so expensive these days. Costa Rica seemed like a good fit because it was really safe, and as a woman traveling alone that is very important.”

The exhibit is open from 12 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The installation contains images and objects that reflect Obert’s perception of the country.

Portions of her journey are replicated, from the urban areas of San José to the rainforest and beaches.

“This exhibit plays off past work that I have done,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in texture and I’ve recently become interested in sound sample.”

This is apparent upon entering the exhibit. Sound from the open space catches your attention before you enter the hall. Sand mounds and photographs fill the gallery, and various souvenirs of the trip are placed throughout.

“The exhibit is very engaging,” senior Peter Hong said. “It is more than something hanging on a wall, like a typical art display. It’s all tangible, like the vines hanging and the sand scattered about.”

Obert spent the bulk of her time in the Nicoya Peninsula in a tiny town by the name of Cubuya.

“The idea was to go to Costa Rica and collect these artifacts and bring them back,” she said. “I collected less than I thought I would because it became difficult to backpack around.”

Obert is in her seventh year at Linfield. Photography is her main genre, but she also does a lot of mixed media. She is teaching Fundamentals of Art this semester.

There will be a closing party from 2 to 4 p.m. on the last day of the show. Obert said her goal is to attract attendance from those living in Portland and the local community.